The front brake plates of the Grey Flash were the same as those fitted to the Black Lightning models. They were made from Elektron magnesium alloy with a detachable air scoop and a neat mesh screen to prevent grit ingress. A solid axle featured a waisted bolt, for lightness and ribbed Black Shadow drums were employed.
According to Peter Johnson, the original drums were not present when he acquired the bike, but the Elektron magnesium plates were and they were in a terrible state – using them would have been very dangerous. Peter managed to acquire a set of similar brake plates cast in aluminium from Ted Davis. Incidentally, Peter still has the old Elektron items.
1.11.2019: Peter sent these photos of the original 2751 brake plates through to me today. They were used as casting patterns.
Peter notes that they were not painted and thinks they were fitted as-cast or possibly anodised – is it possible to anodise Elektron magnesium? I think that this helps to answer the colour dilemma set out below… I believe that brake plates were fitted in the “raw” in many cases. Some Grey Flashes were fitted with brake plates painted black but I would like to suggest that these were plates initially earmarked for fitment to Black Lightnings and – being the only available plates to hand – were fitted to Grey Flashes to move the bikes out of the door, so to speak.
Anyway, as lovely as these Ted Davis plates are I decided to ask around to see whether anyone had a set of original Elektron magnesium ones they wanted to part with since I want to get the specification closer to how the bike was when it left The Works. Incidentally, I would not recommend anyone use original magnesium brake plates for anything more than static display or careful demonstration riding at low speed. Happily bike chum Paul Woelbing came to the rescue!
I disassembled them, had them blasted and painted them to prevent further deterioration. I painted them black… Indeed these plates were originally painted black, as were most fitted to other Vincent racing machines. But some were painted grey… David Dunfey has looked into this and concludes that earlier bikes left The Works with black plates whilst some later bikes were fitted with plates painted grey. Would 2751, being such an early example featuring special finishes and additional fettling, have left Stevenage fitted with regular Black Lightning plates painted black? It seems incongruous that such attention to detail lavished on other areas of the bike would not have been applied to something as visible as the brakes… If the readers of this blog have the time, would they be so kind as to click on the ‘Grey Flash 2751 History’ heading from the home page and scroll down to look through the period shots of the bike – I’d like to hear your thoughts! Bear in mind that all ferrous parts of the bike were dull chromed whilst the fork legs were anodized a grey colour – and then there is also the light to take into consideration…
The brake plates on the rear hub are the original Vincent racing Elektron magnesium items and I have removed and examined them to confirm this.